September 14, 2001
 
 

RE: Response to Comments, Class 2 Modification Requests
WIPP Hazardous Waste Facility Permit
EPA I.D. Number NM4890139088

Dear Concerned Citizen:

On August 31, the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) took administrative action on two Class 2 permit modification requests to the WIPP Hazardous Waste Facility Permit, as submitted to the Hazardous Waste Bureau in the following document:

  • Request for Class 2 Permit Modifications, Letter Dated 5/1/01, Rec'd 5/2/01
  • These modifications were processed by NMED in accordance with the requirements specified in 20.4.1.900 NMAC (incorporating 40 CFR §270.42(b)). The Department of Energy Carlsbad Field Office and Westinghouse TRU Solutions LLC (the Permittees) identified two separate modifications in their submittal: Ten-Drum Overpack (TDOP) Volume - Class 2, and Drum Age Criteria (DAC) - Class 2.

    For the TDOP Volume Class 2 modification request, NMED denied it because the agency also rejected the underlying proposed Class 1 modification ("Item 2.d" contained in the Permittees' July 20, 2000 submittal) upon which it was premised. Because the proposed volume increase was based upon direct loading of TDOPs, and direct loading of TDOPs was precluded by denial of the inappropriate Class 1 modification, no change could be made based upon the Class 2 TDOP Volume modification request.

    For the DAC Class 2 modification request, NMED did not approve it "with changes" as allowed under 20.4.1.900 (incorporating 40 CFR §270.42(b)(6)(ii)(A)) because the complex nature of these changes necessitate the development of a draft permit. Therefore, NMED reclassified this modification request to follow the procedures for Class 3 modifications specified in 20.4.1.900 (incorporating 40 CFR §270.42(b)(6)(ii)(C)). NMED anticipates issuing a draft permit incorporating the DAC modifications for public comment within the next thirty to sixty (30 - 60) days. NMED will provide public notice regarding public participation opportunities upon issuance of the draft permit.

    The TDOP Volume and DAC modifications were subject to a sixty (60) day public comment period, which ran from May 8, 2001 through July 6, 2001. NMED received written comments from ten individuals and organizations during this time. NMED's general responses to the comments related to the TDOP Volume modification are incorporated in the attachment to this letter. NMED will address comments regarding the DAC modification in the forthcoming draft permit, and will respond to all comments at the conclusion of the public comment period for the draft permit.

    Further information on this administrative action may be found on the NMED WIPP Information Page on the World Wide Web at </wipp/>.

    If you have any questions regarding this matter, please contact Steve Zappe at (505) 428-2517.

    Sincerely,
     
     

    John E. Kieling
    Manager
    Permits Management Program

    Attachment

    cc: James Bearzi, HWB
    Steve Zappe, HWB
    Inés Triay, DOE/CAO
    John Lee, Westinghouse


    NMED RESPONSE TO COMMENTS ON CLASS 2 MODIFICATIONS TO WIPP HAZARDOUS WASTE FACILITY PERMIT
    SUBMITTED MAY 2, 2001




    Comment A. The Permittees proposed a Class 2 permit modification to increase the capacity in existing permitted storage areas within the Waste Handling Building to accommodate the volume of direct loaded ten-drum overpacks (TDOPs). The Permittees also proposed to consolidate the descriptions of all containers into one attachment to the Permit. Several commentors believed an earlier modification implemented by the Permittees under the Class 1 modification process (not requiring public comment or NMED approval) was improperly classified and public noticed by the Permittees, calling into doubt whether that change was truly a Class 1 modification. Many commentors believed the increase in capacity exceeded 25% or that the modification was complex, such that the modification should undergo the Class 3 process involving greater public participation. One commentor stated that multiple permit modification requests confuse the issue of storage volume increase, making it unclear what the ultimate increase in capacity would be. Several commentors asked that the modification be denied because they believed the request was incomplete, the request failed to comply with regulations, or more than one version of the modification was submitted. One commentor pointed out that combining two unrelated modifications (increase capacity, consolidate container descriptions) was problematic, in that rejection of one item could result in rejection of the other. This commentor also pointed out that the modification to consolidate container descriptions did not address all necessary portions of the Permit. One commentor opposed surface storage of any waste at WIPP.

    Response: NMED considered all public comment and information provided by the Permittees, and decided to deny the requested permit modification. The following explains how NMED assessed the issues raised by the public, and is offered to explain how NMED's decision was made:

  • As stated in the cover letter, NMED denied this Class 2 modification because the agency also rejected the underlying proposed Class 1 modification ("Item 2.d" contained in the Permittees' July 20, 2000 submittal) upon which it was premised. This Class 1 modification proposed altering the text to include additional allowable waste containers, including the direct loading of ten-drum overpack containers and 85-gallon drums (rather than just using them as overpack drums), and the addition of 100-gallon drums. NMED rejected this Class 1 modification under the regulations because it was not a non-substantive change. Because the proposed volume increase was based upon direct loading of TDOPs, and direct loading of TDOPs was precluded by rejection of the inappropriate Class 1 modification, no change could be made based upon the Class 2 TDOP Volume modification request.